This recent article in the Guardian http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/dec/27/damp-social-housing-residents-heating-energy-bills indicates that mould is a growing problem. Cold, damp houses are natural habitats for mould, which do not make for good air quality and add to respiratory diseases. Part of the problem here is unequivocally poverty – people cannot afford to heat their homes. But is that the whole story?
2000 was the wettest winter on record, with 2012 coming in a narrow second. There are no figures for 2013 yet, but it is moist out there. According to the Met office, “Looking at annual rainfall for the UK, we can see the country as a whole getting wetter in recent decades.” More of that here – http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/news/releases/archive/2013/2012-weather-statistics.
We add moisture to the air in our homes every day. Breathing, washing, and cooking are the main culprits. If there is nowhere for that water to go, no amount of heating your home can keep it dry. If it is wet and humid outside, water will inevitably build up inside and no amount of heating can fight that off forever.
When I was a child, we used to air things. You’d expect to get windows open a few times during the winter, and air out rooms to combat the damp. Washing went outside often enough that you could get away with it. A tumble drier will go a long way to solving that, assuming you can afford to run one. Of course tumble driers use a lot of energy, and if the core problem is climate change, then a tumble drier is like opening the fridge door to tackle global warming.
Cold, damp homes are not healthy. We know that. If winters keep getting wetter, we cannot buy and heat our way out of the problem. We need solutions that do not add to climate change in the first place, as well. We’re brewing a real problem here, alongside all the other many real problems climate change is already causing. Politicians refuse to act, afraid of harming the economy by taking the decisions that would be needed to safeguard our future. They don’t mind ‘tough decisions’ when that means punishing the poor and cutting funds to the most vulnerable, but the economy is sacred and must not be hurt. Except apparently they haven’t figured out that climate change is going to be really bad news for economies, and countries that are not prepared for the flooding, the winds, the wet houses, and all the other technical problems, are not going to have thriving GDPs either. These things are connected.
Being a Druid, the idea that all things are connected comes very naturally to me. We are one big eco-system. What happens in one part affects all the others. It drives me mad that those in power are still clinging on to the magical beliefs of centuries past, that you can do what you like to the planet and it will all be fine. Perhaps they imagine God will put it all right for them? When are we going to let go of the collective fantasy that our actions do not have consequences, and start recognising that the rain, and the mould, and the flooding, and the high winds, the late springs and all the rest of it relate very directly to our activities as a species?
Meanwhile, there is an absolute deluge going on out there.